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If you’re self-employed, you can still access EI Special Benefits.
As a self-employed Canadian (or permanent resident) you can have access to EI Special Benefits if you register with the Canada Employment Insurance Commission. While this EI measure extends certain EI benefits to self-employed individuals, enrollment is completely voluntary.
Special benefits are the EI programs aimed at workers who take time off work due to specific life events:
Note: Self-employed Quebec residents are already covered for maternity and parental benefits through the mandatory Quebec Parental Insurance Program (QPIP) for the Self-Employed, but can choose to participate in the federal program to become eligible for additional sickness, compassionate care, and family caregiver benefits.
You are considered self-employed if you:
As a self-employed individual, you have to register online with the Canada Employment Insurance Commission to participate in the EI program, through your My Service Canada Account. Once you receive confirmation that your registration was successful and completed by April 30th the premiums will be based on the previous year’s income tax return, but if completed afterwards your EI premiums will be calculated based on your income tax return for that year. You have to wait 12 months from the date of your confirmed registration before applying for EI special benefits.
You may cancel within 60 days of registering without incurring any premiums. After the 60-day period, you may still terminate your participation to this program, as long as you’ve never received EI special benefits as a self-employed person. In other words, after you receive EI special benefits, you will have to continue to pay EI premiums for the entire duration of your self-employed career. Instructions on how to cancel or terminate your participation are available on your My Service Canada Account. Please note that termination is not immediate; your participation into the program continues until the end of the calendar year (December 31) in which you filed the notice of termination.
For some, but it’s not beneficial for everyone! So before opting into this federal program, it’s a good idea to discuss and examine the pros and cons with your accountant or with a CFIB Counsellor to help you make an informed decision.
Visit the program’s guide for an overview of more specific details.